Alder shirt dress or How I learned yo use my Featherweight

Almost 2 months ago I won a Singer Featherweight on eBay and almost two weeks later it was found in a recycling bin a few streets away from my house. Thank you, Hermes, I promise never to use your services again! Lucky for me,  the nice gentleman who found it in its bin before collection day was so kind to bring her to me. I tested her and it wad working fine overall, but there wasn’t enough pressure in the foot to keep the fabric from shifting under it. I googled a bit and found a service manual and I finally got around fixing the foot height.

Singer Featherweight

My black beauty

 

Alder was next on my list, so this is my first completed garment using her.
I bough the pdf version of Alder the day it was released. I couldn’t wait for the print pattern, I was waiting since May, when Jen was posting selfies next to her fridge wearing different versions of Alder :). I had 2.5m of chambray bought from the man outside Sainsbury’s which was perfect for view B of the dress, the first view I wanted to try. I remember I only wanted to buy 1.5m but there were 2.5 left on the roll and I was offered the full length for the price of 2m. Yes, please!
I traced size 10 based on the measurements I knew I had and after measuring the pattern, made a tiny petite alteration at armscye level and made a muslin. And the muslin was tight at the bust. And the pattern said there should be enough ease. I measured my self again. Aha! Looks like the last couple of months of not running added a few cm here and there :| .  Anyway,  the muslin was looking ok at the shoulders and back so I made a full bust adjustment (my first) and removed another half of inch at the bust level to raise the dart and shorten the bodice a little more.

Last weekend I cut and sewed the dress. It all went smooth and fairly quick, except for those little mistakes when I sewed the darts on the right side and then I was left with a bit more collar stand at the end of the neckline and I had to chop a bit off. Other than that, the collar was really easy to sew, don’t know why I was so scared of it. I can see more shirts in my future :)

It was really easy to top stitch close to the edge with this machine, I just aligned the edge of the fabric with the inner right edge of the foot.

And here is the dress, in all its flowy wrinkled glory :)

There are a few things I’ll try to do better next time:

1. Stay-stitch the waist, even if it’s a straight line, and press, don’t iron! The waist ended up 4in/10cm wider than the pattern. It’s more obvious in this picture. HUGE.

2. There are some drag lines at the back armscye area. The dress is not tight there, you can see there is some ease around center back. Even though the lines point to the sides, I tried pinching the shoulder seam close to the shoulder, and that seemed to fix the issue. I need to experiment with the shoulder angle a bit. Or maybe it’s the ironing again?

3. The center front drops a little, there are some drag lines there as well. It’s either the snaps are too heavy or again, I ironed the fabric out of shape.

This weekend I cut fabric for two pair of shorts and one top. I don’t like working on more projects at a time, but 2 of them require a lot of hand sewing and I didn’t want to ignore my sewing machine for too long :)

Abstract print Scout dress

I try to sew one project per week. I usually start with cutting/pressing/interfacing during the week and then I sew on weekends. Depending on how much time I have I will choose a quick project or a more elaborate one. Last weekend was a busy one – with a visit to the science museum on Saturday and a day trip to Brighton on Sunday there wasn’t much time left for sewing. So I made this dress on Friday evening and only left the buttonhole for Saturday morning.

The print needed a simple dress, so I merged the Scout pattern with an old dress I like and came up with this “pattern”. I only made Scout once after applying my petite alterations and it turned ok-ish, but after making this dress I think I went a little overboard. I removed 2cm (3/4′) in length from the armscye  area and it’s a bit too tight now. I reprinted the pattern and plan to remove only half that amount. Also, looks like I didn’t alter the sleeve as well, or not enough, because there was a lot of ease in there. I just made two pleats, I didn’t want a gathered sleeve on this dress.

I didn’t use a zip, since the fit is very loose (even though there are two fish eye darts at the back), I just made short slit at center back and closed it with a button and thread loop.

The fabric is cotton bought from Walthamstow Market on a Saturday, from the man outside Sainsbury’s :) . Karen used the same print  for April Rhodes’ Staple Dress, I like the colors on her dress, the bright green (yellow?) seems more appropriate for the print.

It was really windy that Saturday and I couldn’t take any nice photos of my back, the wind made the dress look like a jumpsuit – an unflattering jumpsuit :)

So there it is. Today I’m taking photos of this weekend’s project – the Alder shirt dress. Yes, I spent all Sunday sewing it :)

 

Peacockish

The title describes not only my skirt, but myself as well. I strutted this skirt last weekend with a peafowl worthy attitude.

I bought 2m of this fabric from Goldhawk Road at the sewing meetup. I thought 2m would be enough for a maxi skirt in my size, but I should have paid more attention when drafting the skirt pieces. I almost didn’t have enough for the waistband, I had to sew 3 pieces of fabric together to have enough. The bias seam line is not my idea.

Pieced waistband sewn on the bias to avoid bulk

I searched for inspiration online, trying to find a maxi skirt that wasn’t just a gathered rectangle. I initially thought of using the skirt panels from Anna but I didn’t want to have so many vertical seams, even though they wouldn’t be very visible in this print. I started going through my patterns/Burda magazines to see what I could use and in the February issue of Burda there was this skirt that looked a bit lot (can’t decide) like Gabriola.

I used the top panels from this pattern and drafted the bottom panels myself. I basically draw a straight skirt starting with the Burda panels as the top of my skirt, cut them at the diagonal lines and then I slashed and spread the bottom panels making them as wide as my fabric was. I added a bit to the length just to make sure it will be long enough. I forgot I needed a waistband too!! That is why i ended up piecing the waistband and in the end I had to remove 7 cm from the bottom of the skirt :( . And that was not my only mistake. When I bought the fabric and as I was drawing the pattern, I kept remembering myself to cut everything in one direction, with the feathers going top to bottom. Guess what? I cut my front the other way around… I was so upset, I almost didn’t want to go on with the skirt. But after 2 days of agony I finally decided that it’s not SUCH a big problem and it’s not really that visible either.

But I still felt that I needed to make up for all the mistakes somehow. I’ve recently re-stumbled upon one of Susan Khalje’s videos for Threads magazine where she is talking/showing techniques for building waistbands. I decide to give the 4 layers+ ribbon waistband a try – my fabric was light enough to handle this kind of treatment.

I decided to try other couture techniques as well, so I went ahead with the snap (popper) and hook and thread bars for closure, fell stitched waistband and lining, hand picked zipper, catch stitched seam allowances and 4 point loops for hanging the skirt. I don’t think i forgot anything, this should be it :)

I lined the top panels with a cotton silk lawn. It’s very light, but in combination with the main fabric it should be enough to hide my underwear. :)

Unfortunately this lead to some puffing in the back, I think the lining is slightly shorter than the shell and there is some bulging at the bottom of the zipper, I need to trim the seam allowances in that corner. There are a lot of seams that meet there. I’ll try to steam press it after trimming, I hope it will get better. I will need to take another round of photos, as I wasn’t able to see this problem before. My mirror must be deceiving :)

Oh, there is one more thing I wanted to say about the thread bars – if you decide to use them – sew them tightly, they get looser with wear. I let them a bit loose and they have stretched more.

I am very happy with the ribbon waistband – it springs back flat after sitting, something that doesn’t always happens with an interfaced waistband.

And that’s my Scout, in case you’re wondering. I don’t think there’s much wear left in it, it’s been on a “at least twice a week” program for many moths now. I’m finishing this post and I’m going to cut two more. :)

Have a nice sunny Sunday everyone! :)

Me made fail but sew indie May

My MeMadeMay pledge was to wear something handmade every day, and I was so sure I was going to make it. I mean, I have so many nice dresses! But it turns out I overestimated my wardrobe and sick days are not the perfect occasion to wear nice dresses. But it wasn’t only sick days when I didn’t wear me made. What I realized this month is that I (like to ) wear separates more than dresses. My #1 memade was my Scout woven tee, I wore this top close to ten times. The fabric is so soft now, after so many washes. So yeah, I need to make me some more Scouts and other separates.

I was going to join the Clara dress sew along but I want to make at least 3-4 separates before I make another dress – I’m thinking trousers, a skirt and a couple of Scouts.

May sewing plans included Clara, but I didn’t have time anyway. Other than that I’ve done everything on that list. I started working on the Movies in the park shorts a long time ago, in the first few days of May. A funny thing happened with this pattern. There is a dart on the back piece, but on my printed pattern the dart had no “legs”

I googled the pattern and only found two other reviews, but none of them mentioned the missing dart. I decided to make it 7 cm long and compared the width of the back piece to the back waistband to find out how wide the dart should be. After I finished the shorts I thought about checking the pattern on my laptop. The dart was there! Weird! It just didn’t print. But I was right about the length, so all is good. :)

I’m very happy with my stitch in the ditch here! Not so happy about the binding, this is what happens if you don’t start at the very top – hand sewing required.

Can you see the stitching below the waistband? Neither can I :)

And I’m happy with my matching buttons

I didn’t want so many buttons as in the original pattern, so I used only 3 on each side, and stitch the side seams together. The only functional buttons/buttonholes are the ones on the left.

After trying them on I decided they need a small adjustment on the crotch. The image below is not mine, I only did the crotch adjustment after reading Emma Jayne’s post.

Enough about the shorts, let’s move on to the t-shirt. The free t-shirt! I like my Plantain, but I wanted something more… classic? Tonic seemed perfect. The pattern is made for petites, so I didn’t have to shorten anything. I usually have to narrow the shoulders on patterns, and with this one I decided to cut a size M on the sides and go to a S at the shoulders. Not the best idea. Being for  petites, the shoulders are already narrow too. I’ll use a straight M next time.

I  didn’t follow the instructions for inserting the neckband flat. I don’t feel confident enough to stretch it without measuring before and pin it in at least 4, but usually 8 points. And I like the clean finish I get with inserting the band in the round AND sewing it together on the bias.

Whoa, this is a lot of information for only one post. I hope your MMMay2014 went better. But I think I’m on the right track now, at least I know what I need. Separates and more workouts. Here is my favorite weight lifting routine:

Polka hot overload

This morning, as I was carrying my son to the tube station, I was thinking of what this post will be about. It was going to be about hotties and cuties, but then I did some research and apparently the two words are very similar in meaning, more similar than I thought they were. So I’m not going to tell you how I was never a hot girl, or how I remember trying to be one for a while in high school and never succeeded, or how I don’t even feel comfortable being hot. Or being too hot. Because let me tell you, even if what you’ll see next is full of cutesy polka dots in different sizes and paintings of tea parties, wearing a tight bodysuit with scoop back and front neckline is going to make you hot. I initially planned on wearing the Nettie with black skinny jeans, but I was hotter that I could handle. (I just re-read this and I think cutesy was the word i was looking for this morning, but it just came up now)

I couldn’t say for sure, but I do think Heather Lou infused some of hers and Wanett’s hotness in this pattern. The minute you put this on you’re instantly hot. At least as hot as you can be. Look at this face. Does this face say “hottie”? No.

That was my normal face, but how about this one? No.

Well, there’s only so much a pattern can do :). This was a really quick sew, it took less than 2 hours, but that doesn’t include cutting and snaps sewing. Cutting was quick as well – I recently bought a huge A1 cutting mat and I didn’t pay a fortune on it. I found a no name one on E bay, I paid less than 15 pounds, shipping included. Sewing the snaps wasn’t that easy though, I fond it hard to keep them in place while sewing so they are not perfectly aligned. But they do the job.

I do have some nicer pictures from the “photo shoot”. I met some friends yesterday, it was raining and freezing, but they helped me find a nice background (thank you, Jenny!) and stood in the rain while I as doing my best to act hot.

 

I never see those lines in the mirror, I don’t even think they’re actually there :D

I know I mentioned the word hot 10000 times in this post, but it’s just to emphasize the hotness of this pattern :)

It can even make you hot while you do the robot dance!

 

Plantain – how I made the keyhole and sleeve detail

Plantain keyhole and little bow detail Tutorial

My Plantain with the little keyhole and bows on the sleeves is my most popular post, and back in February when I blogged about it I promised to make a short tutorial about the sleeve detail. I always think that a good tutorial has lots of pictures, so here you go:

(Ignore the fact that I keep calling it a teardrop instead of keyhole :D )

 

Plantain keyhole and little bow detail Tutorial

I tried to capture each step, but it was all clear in my head, so I might have missed something. So if you’re looking at one of the pictures and find yourself scratching your head, send me an email or leave your question in the comments :)

 

London Sewing Meet Up

Pff, what a day! What a day! I shyly entered the V&A cafe this morning at around 11 (fashionably late? :) ), where there were 60-70 ladies, wearing fabulous outfits. I looked around for a few minutes, building courage to join one of the groups. It was a bit strange not knowing anyone, but I guess it was the same for many of the girls there. And once I joined, there was no way out! :) I met so many lovely ladies – Amy, Amanda, Louise, Carmen, gorgeous Jennifer, Simona, blogless Vicki who had a fantastic self drafted shawl collar linen dress, blogless Maya who bought some really cool fabrics, I hope she will start a blog or at least Instagram, so I can see what she’s going to make -and more, I hope there will be a list somewhere with everyone who attended. I didn’t take many pictures, as I was too busy socializing :) but I’m sure a lot will pop up everywhere around the blogosphere (The spell checker doesn’t recognize blogosphere, why isn’t it a word yet? :D).

At noon we took some group photos and headed out to Goldhawk Road, and this is what I bought:

I have a plan for everything, except for the pink bathing ladies, which was £2/m anyway, so no mindless shopping. Ok, maybe just a bit.

I wore my Burda 10/2011 – 122 red dress

Thank you, Rachel, for organising such a wonderful event! I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but I do hope you will do it again!

XYT top and Jalie skirt again

2 weeks ago I ran my first HM in my 3rd Fehrtrade XYT top and 2nd Jalie skort.

I did some changes to the top pattern this time, to avoid the distortions that happened the first time. I removed a “wedge” at the top side of the front and back, made the front lining wider and added 2 cm back to the length of both linings.

old (white) lining vs new (paper) one

The fit is now great, the lining bra is still supportive, and there are no drag lines on the top layer.

For the skort I used the same sizing as the first time, no alterations. Since the first version fit was great, I was expecting the second one to be the same, so I didn’t think to do a test run in it. Big mistake! The fabric I used for the first version was a bit more stable I think, as where the red one is more thin. As a result, I couldn’t keep anything (my phone) in the cleverly designed pockets, because the skirt kept going down! I’ll probably add elastic at the waist, to keep it in place.

zigzag “flat-locked” seams

I’m happy that I now got the fit right on the top, this is officially my favorite running outfit. :D